Thursday, July 19, 2001

Teens were on way to help out a friend

3 escaped unhurt; 1 fell into water

By Tom O'Neill
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Monica Kuchmar and three friends were on their way to help a friend move furniture from a flood-prone basement.

        It was shortly after midnight Wednesday. Storms were lashing the area. Creeks were rising.

        The Hamilton County Sheriff's Department said the 16-year-old Blue Ash girl was in a 2001 Infiniti SUV, eastbound on East Kemper Road, along Sycamore Creek.

        As they neared Loveland-Madeira Road in Symmes Township, they ran into high water.

        The car stalled and began drifting toward the creek and stopped along the retaining wall. The water level was well above the retaining walls.

        Panicked, three of Monica's friends got out of the left side of the car and waded to higher ground and safety across the street.

        Only Monica went out the passenger side, crawling out the right-side window.

[photo] The stalled SUV that Monica Kuchmar and three friends were riding in sits early Wednesday along Sycamore Creek in Loveland.
(Craig Ruttle photo)
| ZOOM |
        Monica fell over the retaining wall that was submerged by rushing water and fell into the creek. She was last seen being swept along in the current under a bridge at Loveland-Madeira Road.

        The Loveland-Symmes Township Fire Department arrived within minutes and tried to get to the accessible areas downstream. They could not find Monica.

        As morning broke Wednesday, rescuers resumed searching for the Blue Ash girl, who was to be a senior this fall at Sycamore High School.

        The sheriff's office said that at 6:30 p.m. they located the body in the Little Miami River near the west bank adjoining Lake Isabella Park.

        The sheriff's office said the body was taken to the Hamilton County Coroner's Office and that the incident remains under investigation.

        Loveland-Symmes Township Fire Chief Jim Hunter had directed the search effort, which was joined by the sheriff's office and Clermont County Sheriff's Department. Helicopters and teams of rescue workers on land and in boat scoured the area.

        “It was just a freak situation. We just had a tremendous amount of rainfall in a short period of time.”

        One of Monica's friends who came to the site of the accident on Wednesday was Katie Amendt, 17, a classmate at Sycamore High School.

        “She loved little kids. She was funny,” Katie said.

        Katie heard about the accident at 1:30 a.m. Wednesday when a friend, a passenger in the car, called her from the police station.

        At noon she went to Sycamore Creek where she and friends tried to make sense of the accident.

        “I was trying to bring as much closure as I could,” Katie said.

        Reporters Emily Biuso and Susan Vela contributed.


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